The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in sequence.
The first battlefield was The Battle for the Mind. Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue, Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family Business, Jewel’s Place, Shanghaied, First Mark, The Pirate’s Life, Defensive Position, Adrift, Self Sacrifice, Crash Down, The Lake House, Dancing with Egopods, Lunch with Aliens and Kilkian Alignment.
The second battlefield is The Battle of the Hands, Here are the previous episodes in this battlefield Learning to See, Maintaining Common Sense, Meeting Compagno, Unseating Dibolocos, The Journey Homeward, Ambush on Platinum 9, Refit, Retrain and Rethink, Saved by Rodent Weed, Convoys and Propaganda, Changing the Moon, Expanding Horizons, Running the Blockade, Dueling Politicians, Legislation, Delegation, and Deliberation, Failed Tyranny, Political Parties, Visiting the City, Passing the Constitution, Tried for Treason and Necessary Failure.
Today we begin the third battlefield.
The Battle of the Heart
Living Under Curse
Jamison and Chambers had a bunch of questions about the battle of the heart, but Colopher and Colophen refused to answer any of them at this point in time.
“All your questions will be answered at the appropriate time. But first we need to talk about a plan for surviving the next few weeks.”
They spent the next couple of hours going over what they would do. Colopher informed them the CDF forces had developed a secret way of tracking ships. They would soon find the trail and follow them as long as they were in open space. The trail however would be confused if they were in an area where a lot of solar wind occurred, too much gravitational pull, or where other ships have left a similar engine trail. It was this last detail they planned to exploit to escape the CDF.
First they could not go to the planet originally planned because the trail up to this point was like an arrow pointing the CDF to that intention. Instead they would go to a well-traveled freight route and see if they could confuse their trail among a multitude of others. The main trade route between the colonies primary galaxies was the most obvious place to go, but of course this was heavily patrolled by the CDF.
Using the stealth capabilities of their ship they were able to sneak behind a line of freighters, when different ones found their destination they would peel off and head to their destination. Jamison followed one of these freighters when it was heading to a suitably remote location. But instead of following the ship into dock it headed around the other side of the planet and then headed away passing by the sun. He then arced to open space. Once out in clear space he dropped a proximity locator and set it up to send a signal if any other ships come that way. If one did, it would mean he had not lost the CDF.
“So where to now?” Jamison asked.
“Might I suggest a location?” Colopher asked, “Somewhere not on many maps yet.”
“Nazaret Hydrogen is a new mining facility just within the boundaries of the colonies. It is new, so it is still quite uncivilized. It is considered unimportant enough that even the CDF doesn’t protect it.”
“Nazaret Hydrogen? Okay, where is it?”
Colopher called up a 3D holographic chart, and pointed to a region of empty space. “It’s about here. But we will have to find it when we get closer. At the moment its location is known only to outlaws, bounty hunters, and a few of the CDF upper commanders.”
“I don’t see a galaxy there, much less a planet?” Chambers was speaking in surprise.
“There is neither. This place is a free standing space station mining space gasses from a slow moving comet.”
Jamison’s eyebrows went up. It was rare for anyone to build a free standing base because that meant air and water had to be constantly hauled in. And the further out it was the more expensive and impractical that would be. So how exactly did this station in the middle of empty space survive?
He figured if he asked his questions they would only answer, he would find out when the time was right. So he laid in a course and continued to drop beacons which would warn him, if he was followed.
After a week and a half of travel they were further out than either of them had ever been before. As they approached the area where Colopher had said they would find a station, she and Colophen left on other business. Jamison and Chambers began a search pattern looking to detect either a station or a comet. Soon they found a massive slow moving comet, but failed to see a station.
When all else failed they circled the comet and as soon as they came around behind, they were hailed. The station was tucked right in the middle of the dust trail of the comet, making it almost impossible to detect.
They spoke with a station administrator named Judasson. For a nominal fee, which had to be paid in non-trackable currencies, he would allow them to dock. Three cases of platinum sweet moss later they were on board the space station. Judasson met them upon disembarking.
“Welcome to Nazaret H.” he said with a lisp that made him sound a bit like a snake. “You will like it here. Very little interference, lots of freedom. But on the other hand, life is cheap and absolutely anything can be acquired by trade.” He was staring at Chambers as he said this.
Her hand instinctively dropped to her side arm, her fingers checking the settings in well-rehearsed patterns. The motion was noticed by Judasson who took a step back and bowed his head slightly in deference.
Jamison didn’t miss any of these details, but also didn’t want to cause any trouble. “Sounds perfect for us. At least for now. So what housing is available on this station, we thought we might stay for a while.”
“Of course, for a couple like your selves, used to the finer things in life, you can rent suites from the station administrator.”
Jamison was sure this man would eat up every available resource he had if he let him. Instead of a presidential suite he negotiated for an apartment among the workmen. He paid well for such mean quarters and paid much better for an assurance the man would tell no one. Then Judasson had a steward show them the way to their new home. Jamison used the opportunity to make a friend and learn about the location.
“How does this station get air and water?” he asked.
“We mine them from the comet.” The young man answered with enthusiasm.
“Oh? How is that possible?”
“The station is equipped with a device Judasson invented. It takes frozen oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen off the comet and process them to make air and water. It also makes hydrogen crystals, Nitrogen dust and a bunch of other things we can sell.”
As they entered the apartment, Jamison asked, “So this station is wealthy?”
“Well no, it’s a part of the curse. Curse, that is the name of the comet. We spend everything we get keeping the equipment running. We have to or we will perish. We can’t slow down the works, or else we will run out of air.”
After they settled in, they wondered how long and what it will be like living under this curse.